Photo of Industrial Light and Magic

Industrial Light and Magic

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Hardware

For 30 years of innovation in visual effects technology for the motion picture industry.

Chrissie England on ILM’s legacy

In 1975, about 45 people gathered in a sweltering warehouse just outside Los Angeles. Led by Jon Dykstra, the team of artists and engineers spent their days sweating in 100-degree heat, blasting Fleetwood Mac, and creating visual effects for an upcoming science fiction film directed by a young filmmaker named George Lucas. The film, of course, was Star Wars, and it would become a cultural touchstone for generations of moviegoers.

At the time, the film’s success was no guarantee, however, and Lucas knew how much depended on the visual effects team finding ways to create the outer space dogfights and lightsaber duels that so far only existed in his imagination. “’Forget the industrial and the light,’” Lucas later recalled telling them, referencing the industrial warehouse in which the team had set up shop and the lighting rigs being used to film the effects. “’This is going to have to be magic.’”

Industrial Light & Magic went on to create the visual effects for more than 300 films, transforming an entire industry along the way.

By Jake New